It’s officially taken me a good 25 days to finally sit down and write a blog about my time in South Africa. It’s not that I don’t have fond memories. It’s not that my time there wasn’t memorable or life changing. In fact, it’s very much quite the opposite. Every time I sit and try to wrap my mind around that piece of my journey, I come up short. Words just don’t seem to be enough to express the beauty of that land; of the amazing people, of the unexplainable love, of the real life community.
Instead of words, my mind swirls with images. Amidst the breathtaking beauty of Cape Town sits a community called Ocean View. In the community live some of the kindest people you will ever meet. Their faces flash, like a slideshow, through my mind and each one of them is looking at me with such love, such grace, such joy. I imagine myself walking through the streets again, and remember that each and every time I did so, I was greeted by a crowd of giddy children, a hug from a desperate teenager, a wave from a hurting mother. Words can’t capture those memories.
As I am back in the States, I can’t help but feel like life is a little cold (and, no not just because I am finally experiencing winter!) Despite the hurt, despite the pain, despite the brokenness of that community... there was love. There was joy. There was life. It wasn’t a place of people just co-existing, it was a place of people choosing to live life together. And I miss that. More than I realized was possible.
The people of Ocean View changed my life. Part of my heart will forever belong to them. They taught me how to love in the midst of heartache; how to pick yourself up after devastation; how to fight this battle as an army and not as individuals. They reminded me that life is about living together.
My time there was short, and yet I was never treated as a stranger. Though I currently live thousands of miles away, I have African mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, that will forever be a part of my my journey; that will forever be a part of my family.
Community is more than just the people that live nearby. Community is more than just a neighbor. Community is about living life together. Side by side. Fighting for one another. Thank you, Africa, for reminding me of just how sweet and how beautiful that can truly be.